February 25

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1920 The Government of Ireland Bill, primarily an attempt to settle the Ulster question, was introduced in the House of Commons.
  • 1915

    Above: The Wicklow granite memorial to les onze Anglais d’Iron (six of whom were in fact Irish), sponsored by the Munster Fusiliers Association, unveiled in their honour in Iron in 2011. (Irish Times)

    Eleven British army soldiers and a French mill-owner were executed by the Germans at the fort of Guise in Aisne, northern France. The soldiers were amongst the many who ‘disappeared’ after becoming detached from their regiments during the British Expeditionary Force’s ‘long march’ southwards, with the Germans in close pursuit, after the Battle of Mons in August 1914. Help came from a patriotic Frenchman. They were discovered in an emaciated state in woods near the village of Iron by a local mill-owner, who, with the support of fellow villagers, sheltered them in his own home for four months. In the meantime, the local German commander warned that Allied soldiers hiding behind enemy lines should surrender and become prisoners of war. If otherwise captured, they, and any civilians who assisted them, would be shot as spies. The soldiers were betrayed by one of the villagers, a Franco-Prussian war veteran. Jealous of the mill-owner’s son, who had won the affections of a local woman whom he had planned to marry, he took his revenge by reporting his rival’s father’s activities to the Germans. Though referred to locally as les onze Anglais d’Iron, ten of the eleven were members of Irish regiments and six were Irish. Ptes Denis Buckley (33) and Daniel Horgan (18) from Cork and Pte John Nash (21) from Kerry were with the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Pte Terence Murphy (29) from Sligo, Pte John Walsh (33) from Offaly and Pte Mathew Wilson (37) from Galway were with the Connaught Rangers. A memorial of Wicklow granite, sponsored by the Munster Fusiliers Association, was unveiled in their honour in Iron in 2011.

  • 1967 S.J. (Samuel John) Waddell, actor and playwright, notably of The Drone (1906), died.
  • 1964 Cassius Clay—later Muhammad Ali—won the world heavyweight boxing title for the first time, knocking out Sonny Liston in round seven in Miami.
  • 1956 In a four-hour ‘secret speech’ at a closed session of the 20th Party Congress, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev systematically demolished the reputation of his predecessor, Joseph Stalin.
  • 1956 Henry James (72), American-born author, notably of A portrait of a lady (1881), and three times Nobel Prize for Literature nominee, died.
  • 1759 The French privateer Captain François Thurot sailed from Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, having occupied the town for almost a week during the Seven Years’ War. He was killed three days later when a British fleet sank his fleet of three ships off the Isle of Man.

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